Poetry: Modernism Begins by Sean Kilpatrick
Apologies for frustrating my own bust,
such a thick animus of late,
quartered in the wrong pose.
Trust the art, never its maker. Or vice versa.
I came to in a revolution,
playing between bodies in the street,
plucking the petals off their fungi,
a stinking game of tag,
and sense now another foul upheaval to follow,
half a world away. Both our host countries –
as poets attach to any fat vein allowing us to paw
our own prism like a beetle sunk in dung –
will make fodder of us yet.
What father isn’t worth enlisting against?
What king shouldn’t throw himself on the monde of his crown,
or wag the scepter to hurry up and drown?
And presidents elect: revolving props for my pulpit.
Newspapers exist to be laid beneath a pet.
Where you rooted up evil for closer inspection,
I mean to lick the petals from their stem
and seed my consequence.
I miss the hubris of youth and an ability to admire anything.
Standing up wasn’t such a condition then.
LAUTREMONT WRITING A LETTER
Dear my father’s banker,
great breakthroughs ensue to lash the muse,
despite your shrill advice. Met the king of vice, Baudelaire,
on a field trip dad inadvertently sponsored.
He was of a questionable medical standing,
fulminous automaton out of Hoffmann, percolating sputum.
You may vanish with him and the rest of the Federalists,
yet his decay endures each medium,
save the smirking face on coins.
I plan on facilitating the decline of language
into math to mock you and father’s path.
Inform the chancellor and his positivist church.
Hock your proverbs, Avernarius on stilts.
Family funds will find me published,
for appearances, not benefice. Kept minor forever,
I’ll drag everyone else small as possible.
Position humanity right where I wipe.
Hatred limits one’s reach down the reader’s gullet?
I will colonize the coming century subtracted from itself,
the stringent cynosure of my migraines
explicated sadistically, spread from intent to identity.
People who mean well are diminished
by their own pestilential altruisms.
They become their tongue, slingshot between sou and tonsil.
Narcissus regurgitated the pond and swilled his mane back into orbit.
He’s been lashed to life on the meal overhead,
this atomizing urinal propped heavenward
on the backs of a new habitue.
What parturient duplications stutter into tenure
while the ninnies rhyme.
I give you the biography of the ellipses,
the literature of deceit, pyramids underground.
I tally shrouds, sifting through the insects
that screw within a tear drop.
My billfold split self from page.
I stand to force feed these dandies their wimple,
primitive clutch of kids slimed in solipsism,
cuddling colonic misfires, the salon as slogan,
incorporating disaster by striking at that which only absorbs,
Christ’s pubic louse collaged toward metalinguistic sentience.
Nothing will be foreign to my will.
Forever your boy, Isidore.
PS – Take heart, Paris blooms with tombs,
wide grows the grave, the February Revolution storms home again.
Animals are devoured fresh from the zoo.
BAUDELAIRE WRITING A LETTER (TO THE GHOST OF ALFRED DE MUSSET)
Dear bastard Musset,
you decrepit myth, he whom, decades dead,
I mistook matriarchal, hankering for a Franc,
another merry lover of cats,
stirring up storms in the abandoned lyric of romanticism,
censoring Wagner by accident.
Have you tamed nature with the impedimenta of your spit yet?
May the symbol perforce become vision again,
more plate than palate, despite your shabby bradenburghs
bibbed fashionable, beyond laudanum,
which is useful for keeping factory children
constipated enough to work nonstop.
Likewise, your prose.
You’re just a subject of the utility we revolt against.
I will shape natural doings into the golden ratio of my spleen,
I bark back at dogs. Musset never yipped, sipper of glaciers.
Water is disgusting. I am unbound by ponds.
The artist stands alone, even if his loins offer productive tohubohu.
Likewise, your prose. Clerical confectionery,
graveyard tourism knighted into femininity,
the fulcrum of a tear trop.
Remember when lines ensorcelled their subject
beyond the capering need to stink with authenticity?
As the automatic collage buries us in our frockcoats,
I climb the stitching of your corpse.
Genius gnaws holes in its veil.
They will say we did so to better find our breath,
but you were already dead in the womb,
and I swallowed that miscarriage before gravity came through.
I’d suggest a slit throat if the gash left more elegant impressions.
The party continues in Eden.
Sing the sentry a couple bars of your infertile scripture for me.
The scorpion strikes backwards to test his poison,
a delicious latrine, building industries.
Soon original sin will be the only thing.
I discovered the extent to which nature compels survival,
then instinct became boring.
You wade nude over your own reptilian filler.
Reason and thought organize the leaf artificial,
and arise of a will predestinated to create,
while Mother Ocean bubbles her excreta.
Curl a middle digit up that vaporous alexandrine.
Diadem those leavings. Fair warning:
encountered the future of our craft,
who sojourned to kiss my hems in helpless Belgium.
I inquired after his title, ad infinitum,
as my mind has diminished after years of reading writers like you,
but all he did was utter some stupid Eugene Sue pseudonym.
What I can commemorate, though, is how this child
proved himself an artist with potential vaster than your haughtiest effort
during the span of a single conversation.
I bet he spells better too. And smells better.
I bet his shit stink leaves yours wanting,
it being far less culturally pervasive.
A longtime fan. I even read you in my handkerchief.
BAUDELAIRE HEARS RESPONSE FROM MUSSET’S GHOST
(BECOMES FURIOUS, HAS A STROKE)
I see a screed before me –
the prophet of gutters tries refining economy
from the lowest reach of a parental purse, of course,
sustained therein by forces foreign to his understanding,
both suckled and denied, grateful and enraged,
oxymoronic as any poet fit to live, and none are.
I agree, the democratic vulgarization of reportage allows for,
and restrains, art – a distributed diminishment,
lost between provisions in an arena so big
you can hop through its entropy one pie slice at a time,
one article at a time, an unwilled paradox submitted to nevertheless,
a plea of defeat for the romanticist dream.
Trauma supplants sublimity, the vortex puckers shut,
medicinal science summed up.
Those apron-stringed to their mommy sat out the Battle of Hernani,
which allowed bouzingos like you to chase down
the dwarf women who resemble them.
Was it fancy D’Aurevilly, or Champfleury,
extolling how your green wig fatigued him,
how your crypt exists below the cross?
You’re a living peruke mossy as the corpse
your parents weren’t brave enough to make.
Oh, lackaday, your rotting aristocracy can’t abolish
George Sand for abolishing hell from Christianity
inside De Nerval’s swinging dummy?
The excrescence of one’s quill divides
the smaller member while both knees squeeze together.
Sharpen your imagination on that dictionary.
I promise nature never strikes back.
Slandering Balzac for succumbing to ghost writers,
calling Hugo another notary, is to murder the mirror,
taking up residence in a water closet.
Flush your fans, boy.
Ideas can be translated beyond correspondence,
synaesthetic memory invalidating imitation,
spoiled memories grown delicious with misuse.
Neglecting form destroys the point, we agree.
Form will shape us against our will.
You are better embraced as a memory.
Censored, but not sat through, you straw in a flute.
PS – Forthcoming parcels from this address
to be forwarded to a series of academic secretaries
entombed alongside me.
You profited better losing the good fight
with utilitarian socialist fool Barbier,
than being kept under Borel’s bousingot,
an overstuffed canary feeding off his plumage.
You accuse me of imitating Banville while your hero,
creole Lisle, whose skin you lick, thinks your uninspired muses trip.
Gautier’s fat hambone cenacle of drug clubs killed the cult of art,
a bilious blatue, but fret not, the scar as artifice,
the altitude of a cut, shall commence beyond ressentiment!
Sean Kilpatrick's writing is in Boston Review, Fence, LIT, Vice, Nerve, Misery Tourism, Bomb, New York Tyrant and Evergreen Review.